Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, October 03, 2008

Hot Spring winds (not waters)

The last two days have been nasty hot windy days.

The weather has been knocking my Peonies around. This seems to happen each year, in mid Spring. We get a burst of hot north-westerlies. It is the wind, more than the absolute temperature which does the damage. The early-flowering hybrid herbaceous Peonies are approaching their full height (the tallest plants are at pocket height (about 80 cm or 30 inches high), and have large buds. But they have been growing fast, for the last 4 weeks and are really fresh and soft and susceptible to wilting. Plant tissue, when it is so fresh, is mostly moisture, with relatively little hardened cellulose tissue. So when the wind saps moisture out of the leaves, the entire stem can simply weaken and collapse. It is transpiration/evaporation which causes the plants problems. Water is literally sucked from the leaves and stems of such fresh growth.

Why is it that spells of hot weather occur when one can deal with it least? Yesterday, I had to go to Canberra hospital for a routine top up on my Chemo treatment. So I rushed off early in the morning of Thursday. While I was in Canberra - all day yesterday - the temperature in Bowral (the closest official weather station to me) reached 27.7 C, with winds of 22 Kmh. Today was just slightly less hot, but even windier (30 Kmh). I stayed over in Bowral last night, and this morning I had to go straight to the CTC to open the "shop" at 10:00am this morning. Consequently, when I did manage to sneak home, about 12:00 noon, the plants were into their second day of hot dry winds.

I quickly threw some water around (despite knowing that I risked the leaves being scorched by the sun). Fortunately, I think the Peonies will be OK.

Interestingly, there is another perennial which is even more abrupt in its growth pattern. This plant needs shelter, and I grow it where it receives only morning sun, against the corner of the house (protected from the winds). This plant has only just broken through the ground in the last week. I took this photo at just after noon on Wednesday. The blade of a spade in the photograph is 10 inches (25.5 cm) high.I took this second photo about 3 hours ago, (10:30 pm on Friday) - two and a half days later - when its shoots were well above 18 inches (46 cm) high. It is called Solomon's Seal, (Polygonatum multiflorum). The normally reliable Wikipedia does not explain the mysterious (obviously biblical) name of this plant. Interestingly, this plant is closely related to Asparagus (which I had not realised until I looked it up) - but I swear as I was composing this little item about how fast the shoots grow, I was going to compare its sudden growth to - Asparagus!

That just shows how little I knew - and how how much I had intuited. I cannot see the relationship in leaf, or flower structure, but the botanists obviously know something I don't know.

Another plant which loves the warm weather is the single-flowering Crab Apple - Malus floribunda. While the flowers start with red buds, they quickly open to palest pink, and then almost white. The overall effect is a silvery white (interspersed with pink). This is a young tree, about 4 years old. There is a covered trailer in the background. This is a natural light image, showing buds and some of the older flowers (on the right) showing their true (mature) colour. The flowers have a light sweet perfume. The bees were going crazy around this plant at mid-day on Wednesday, in bright sun. Here is a photo of the flowers showing the rich pinkish red colour of the buds (for which I grow this plant). Finally, a reminder that in the south-eastern states of Australia (and West Australia) Daylight Saving starts on Sunday morning. Put your clocks forward one hour when you go to bed on Saturday night.

In Queensland, some people are proposing to petition the Governor to introduce Daylight Saving. But a very active anti-Daylight Saving lobby exists. In typical Queensland fashion, they blame southerners for the push to introduce it to Queensland.


mick said...

I'm really enjoying your posts about all the spring flowers.
I'd forgotten about daylight saving! Now I have the bother of remembering that all my southern friends are working to a different timetable :-(

Mosura said...

Judging by the BOM radar your peonies are currently being flatted by the rain.

Regarding the origin of the name 'Solomon's Seal', here's a quote from my Field Guid to the Wildflowers of Britain:
One explanation is that the circular scars on the underground rooting stem, left by withered flowering stems of previous years, resemble document seals. Another theory is that the name arose because of the medicinal value of the plant in 'sealing' wounds and broken bones. .....The biblical King Solomon himself was traditionally said to have approved this use.

Denis Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Denis Wilson said...

Trying again. I am not on my usual computer, and I stuffed up some things.

Hi Mosura
The rain arrived before I read your comment. Damn you are good - and at such a distance.
Thanks for the explanation of "Solomon's Seal". It was puzzling. I was guessing that it might be connected with witchcraft. Wikipedia's article on the Seal which Solomon apparently used links it with the Pentagram. The 6 points of the petals (when viewed end-on) could be seen, to resemble the Pentagram.

When the plant flowers (in about 2 weeks, probably), I shall take such a photo, and "compare and contrast" the two designs.
I have seen the scars on the roots (when transplanting plants).

The "herbal" stuff is recorded by Gerard, but as per usual, he says it would cure anything from
"women's troubles" to broken legs -both, quite literally. (Don't balme me, folks - its a quote.)

Modern herbalists are not so keen, but there are some possible benefits in treating diabetes, apparently.

Gerard was a really vague old guy. His reputation stands largely on the fact that he wrote stuff down, not on the merits of what he wrote.
Thanks for the background info - I was puzzled (and obviously not the only one). Cheers.
(PS Rain has eased now, but I left the sun-roof of my car open a little last night (because yesterday was so hot). Seats are soaked now. The rain was very heavy for about 30 minutes, then it eased off.